Maryland became the very first offer for the then-sophomore Ja'mion Franklin last year, when former UMD-area recruiter Mike Locksley extended a verbal to the budding Gilman (Baltimore, Md.) lineman. A year later, though, the 6-foot-2, 312-pound rising junior is back at his former high school, North Caroline (Ridgeley, Md.), and no longer holds a firm UMD verbal.
But that’s about to change in short order. Franklin returned to College Park, Md., for the first time since the spring June 14, and he left campus confident the new Maryland regime would be anteing up.
“Oh, I’m pretty sure the offer’s going to come as soon as I see Coach [D.J.] Durkin. I’m going back up there [June 17] for the camp, and then again June 18 for the Lineman Challenge,” said Franklin, who holds one early verbal from Kentucky Christian. “I’m pretty sure I’ll get the offer by the weekend.”
If so, the hometown school would be sitting pretty for the Eastern Shore native. Franklin previously called UMD his early No. 1 last year, and feelings haven’t subsided with the new regime in place.
“Man, Maryland’s incredible. They’re definitely at the top. They’ve always been up there, but seeing what it’s becoming now makes it stand out even more,” Franklin said. “You can just tell the atmosphere has changed there with the new staff. I love it up there.”
Franklin was first exposed to new-look Maryland during the April spring game. But June 14 he got a deeper look at the program and had personal meetings with his area recruiter, Matt Barnes, and defensive coordinator Andy Buh.
“Coach Barnes and Coach Buh were both really excited to have me up there,” said Franklin, who also saw assistant Aazaar Abdul-Rahim and Mike London June 14, although Durkin was not around. “They were talking about how they’re bringing all the DMV guys they want in, and they consider me one of their top guys. They were talking about the [DMV] Movement and all that, and how they want the locals on board. Just their energy and passion for the program, it really stands out.
“Plus me and Coach Barnes have a great relationship. We’ve messaged on Twitter and all that, and he’s great to talk to.”
Barnes actually showed Franklin around campus, giving the local lineman his first tour of the school. The North Caroline product, who is mainly being recruited as a defensive tackle, said he loved the atmosphere in College Park.
“The campus is beautiful; it’s great to walk around there,” Franklin said. “Also, the locker rooms are awesome, and, I know it’s just beginning, but the new facilities are going to be sick, man. The tunnel and the indoor fields, they’re going to be sick. I can’t wait for those to be ready.
“And the uniforms, man. Whenever I go up to Maryland I have to check out the Under Armour gear. I love the uniforms (laughs).”
If that weren’t enough to grab Franklin’s attention, he said the number of DMV recruits matriculating to the hometown school has certainly piqued his interest. He’s friends with many incoming Terps, including former teammate Cam Spence (St. John’s/Washington, D.C.) and Kasim Hill (St. John’s).
“The DMV Movement is great, and it’s getting stronger and stronger,” Franklin said. “I think when Josh Kaindoh [IMG Academy/Bradenton, Fla.] committed, that was really an eye-opener for guys around here. That was huge for Maryland, and it’s making [local recruits] think even more highly of Maryland.”
Franklin, though, said he won’t commit immediately after the Terps’ offer is inevitably presented. He said he would like to take his time with the process and gauge his other suitors.
“I’m not going to rush my recruitment,” said Franklin, who plans to stay at North Caroline. “But right now I do love Maryland.”
The only other school Franklin has seen besides UMD is Rutgers. Coming up, he’s heading to Pitt, Syracuse, Michigan, UCF and Florida.
“Most schools are looking at me for defensive tackle, but people like me at offensive guard too,” said Franklin, who mentioned programs throughout the Big Ten have shown interest, including Michigan. “Last year was actually my first time playing guard, and it was a natural fit. But I do love defense.”